In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), a new emphasis has been placed on teaching children about entrepreneurship. In Morocco, four out of every five young people between the ages of 15 and 34 are unemployed and not taking an active role in changing their circumstances.
The idea behind encouraging young people to become entrepreneurs is that they will eventually create jobs for themselves and others as well. Injaz is a non-profit at the forefront of this initiative.
According to their website, Injaz aims to “reveal to youth their potential and stimulate their spirit of initiative through a partnership between the corporate and the public worlds.” They have 10 offices all over MENA that are carrying out programs that teach young people about how to create a business.
Injaz has volunteers on the ground who are engaging students at all grade levels for two hours during a three-week period in each location. During their time at each place, volunteers attempt to implement Junior Achievement programs, which has been a global leader of entrepreneurship since 1919.
These programs work to get unemployed youth engaged and re-energized about their futures.
The high unemployment rate can be attributed to several factors: public sector employment preferences, lack of “high quality” jobs and a mishandling of skills and the education that is provided when it comes to what jobs are most needed in the job market.
These and other intricately interwoven factors contribute to the lack of engaged youth and the clear need for an entrepreneurial initiative.
Although the governments in MENA have recognized and attempted to enthusiastically rectify this growing problem, they haven’t been able to gain the trust and respect of its people due to their predecessors. The public is skeptical because there have been many failures on the part of past government officials when it comes to this initiative.
It is important to remember that there have been failures, yes, but also many success stories, some of which are shared on Injaz’s website.
In 2014, the efforts of Injaz helped to provide almost 11,000 students with hands-on classes on global business, practical entrepreneurial skills, financial literacy and an encouragement towards imagination and creativity.
As Sarah Alaoui, a team member of the American Moroccan Legal Empowerment Network, says, “the fairies of innovation and entrepreneurship will not magically dissipate the hurdles faced by unemployed youth in the country, [but] if cultivated properly, they are a long-term channel for Morocco’s youth to contribute to the country’s growth and development as valuable members of society… [and] the ship of entrepreneurship must be encouraged to stay afloat in Morocco.”
– Drusilla Gibbs